By Duane Ranger (Monday March 31, 2014)
Sean Kane won his first race in New Zealand on Sunday.
Sean Kane would love to salute the judge at Alexandra Park before he leaves for his homeland in early May.
The Irishman drove his first winner in 32 New Zealand starts on the New Plymouth grass yesterday (Sunday). He said he loved driving on New Zealand tracks and rated Alexandra Park one of the best in the world.
“I’ve had a few drives there and loved it, especially the surface. It’s one of the top tracks I’ve driven on and right up there with Sweden as one of the best,” he said.
Kane, who turns 20 on April 26, arrived in New Zealand in November from Sweden where he worked for Swedish trainer Bo Falsog. He has to be back in Ireland on May 11 because he has a team if 15 in work at Dublin – his birthplace and home town..
“I took over training from my father Gerard a couple of years ago, so even though I would like to stay here, I have to head back. Actually I’m quite looking forward to it. Harness racing has been in our family for three generations now. I absolutely love it,” Kane said.
He said harness racing in Ireland was on the rise.
“We just signed a deal with French Trotting which has agreed to pay 40 per cent of our stakes. Things are getting better back home. I’m pleased because its in my blood,” Kane said.
Kane has been employed by Jay Abernethy while in New Zealand and paid both him and Ken Tarrant a tribute for getting as many drives as what he has.
“They have both been very good to me. I got the drive behind Righteous Royale because Sailesh was committed to Twin Towers, who I might add finished last.
“I’d also like to add that I beat Jay, who was second behind Beta Be Quick. I got the drive because I was the first to phone the trainer when Sailesh said he couldn’t drive the mare,” Kane said.
That trainer was Hawera-based Brendan Towers, who notched up his third career win when Righteous Royale won the $5,500 Salty Dog Café C1 pace.
Kane settled Righteous Royale second behind the pace-making Beta Be Quick (Jay Abernethy) soon after the start of the 1750m mobile. That’s where they remained until half way down the home straight when Kane shot the 4-year-old brown mare along the passing lane to win by a neck from his boss.
The daughter of Righteous Hanover and Vance Royale stopped the clock in 2:12. The mile rate was 2:01.8 and she paced her last 800m in 58.8.
It was just the pick-up Kane had been looking for after he lost his little canine (blue heeler) mate ‘Walt’ on Friday.
“Walt was my best friend. I was shattered. That dog followed me everywhere. I’ll never forget him. Sadly he had to be put down after an accident. Winning on Sunday gave me a much needed lift,” said the Irishman who has affectionately been nicknamed ‘Gumboot’ since arriving here.
Kane has now had 32 drives in New Zealand for one win, one second, and two thirds.
He has driven 15 winners in Ireland and had 10 training successes.